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Traffic enforcement cameras

A speed-enforcement camera is shown on northbound Interstate 29 in Sioux City in April 2014. City leaders said Thursday they expect the Iowa Legislature to ban the use of the cameras on state-controlled roads such as I-29.

SIOUX CITY | The man who lost a legal challenge on the constitutionality of Sioux City's automated traffic camera ordinance said he doesn't plan to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday upheld Sioux City's automated traffic camera ordinance.

Sioux Center, Iowa, lawyer Michael Jacobsma had challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance, arguing before the court in October that the city exceeded its authority in enacting the ordinance and that it violates due process because it does not require a finding that the owner was driving the vehicle at the time of the infraction.

"I am disappointed, obviously," Jacobsma said Friday. "The court has spoken, and now that is the law we are going to have to abide by."

He had many people supporting his legal challenge, he said.

"There were quite a log of people rooting for me," Jacobsma said.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court cited a 1976 case in Iowa City in which the court ruled a vehicle owner was responsible for multiple parking tickets and that city parking ordinances did not violate due process.

“It is quite rational to employ … inference that a registered owner who offers no evidence that he was not driving the vehicle at the time of the infraction was, in fact, the operator,” the 35-page ruling says.

“Based on these authorities and our own application of applicable law, we conclude that under the facts of this case, Jacobsma has failed to show that the presumption is sufficiently arbitrary and unreasonable to give rise to a federal due process violation.”

Sioux City had argued that the ordinance gives owners of vehicles photographed by speed cameras an adequate chance to prove they are not liable for the ticket sent to them because they can shift the liability to someone else.

Jacobsma challenged a district court judge's ruling that upheld a $168 fine he was issued after a vehicle registered to him was photographed traveling at 67 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 29 in Sioux City in 2012. Jacobsma did not say in court records or before the Supreme Court justices who was driving the vehicle.

The ordinance allows vehicle owners to submit the name of a "nominated party," or someone other than the owner who is responsible for the violation. Jacobsma said he never appointed a nominated party because he could not find an explanation of the nomination process, and two justices agreed during October's hearing that the process seemed vague.

City Attorney Nicole Jensen said she was pleased that the court's unanimous finding that the traffic camera ordinance doesn't violate due process.

She said the city has established a "common sense approach" to catching speeders.

"It is a public safety issue," Jensen said.

The city has operated two speed cameras along I-29 since 2011. The city also operates 11 red-light cameras at nine intersections in the city. The first red-light cameras were installed in 2009.

In an unrelated case, the city has challenged the Iowa Department of Transportation's automated traffic camera guidelines, seeking to have them thrown out because, the city claims, the IDOT violated its own procedures when passing them. The case is scheduled for trial in May in Woodbury County District Court.

-- Erin Murphy of the Journal Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.


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